Church worship gatherings are one of very few environments in America anymore, where corporate singing is encouraged. Outside of “Take Me out to the Ball Game” in the middle of the 7th inning, almost no one sings together in our culture much anymore. Then there’s church…
We get together weekly with a guy and a guitar who has a whole band with him, and nice backgrounds on a huge screen, showing the lyrics of every song being sung – all with the expectation that we’re to join in the singing.
So I thought I would address why we do something so bizarre in other public gatherings…
It’s not a concert.
At a concert, you have the performers and you have the audience. And the audience is there for the performers, and the performers are there for the audience. In corporate worship, there is a third element. Most Christians get this, but get it mixed up. That third element is the catalyst, the one who is prompting the worship of the performers.
Most feel that God is that catalyst, the people up front are the performers, and those of us listening are the audience. But the truth is, God is the audience – the One who receives the worship. The leader up front is not the performer, he/she is the catalyst – the one calling and prompting others to worship. Meaning that the people – you and I, sitting in the seats – are the performers, motivated by those leading to offer our hearts of worship to God through song, prayer, and gratitude to God for who He is and all He does.
It’s emotional and intellectual
Jesus said in John 4 that those whom God is seeking to worship Him must worship Him, “in spirit and in truth.” Worship to God is intended to be spirit, and truth – with the heart and with the mind. At LifeCity, we try to lead others in worship through music that is solidly truthful and consistent with the teaching of Scripture, but also soul-stirring, bringing out emotions conducive when offering our hearts and lives before the presence of God. Truth without spirit in our worship is stoic and soul-sucking. Spirit without truth is a superficial frenzy. Both unbalanced perspectives on worship are cheap counterfeits of what God intended for us. So we seek to worship Him in spirit and truth.
There’s three types of worship songs
Ephesians 5:19, “…speaking to yourselves in psalms, hymns and spiritual songs. Speaking, and making melody in your hearts to the Lord…”
Psalms. Psalms, like that of the book of the Bible with the same name, are simply God’s Word set to music. The book of Psalms was primarily used as a song book for worship in the temple of God. But in general, a psalm is any of GOd’s inspired word – the Bible – put to music. Much of our music includes quotes taken straight from God’s Word.
Hymns. Most people are confused about this one, because it gets equated with a specific genre of songs that were written between 50 and 500 years ago. But a hymn is actually jut any song that is intended to directly address God. Not just a song written about God, but a song written, played, and sung to God as the intended audience. Because of this, most songs that we sing are hymns – just, not the ones they might be singing at your grandma’s church. And just so we’re clear, we do have grandma’s at LifeCity, and they love our music.
The verse in Ephesians encouraged us to sing “to yourselves” meaning to one another. A spiritual song is a song in which the lyrics are still completely consistent with the teachings of Scripture, but the intended audience is other believers, not God directly. Last Sunday, we sang “O, Clap Your Hands” as our opening song. While that song is directly from the book of Psalms, it’s also a spiritual song. We were not singing to God asking Him to clap His hands… we were singing to one another encouraging all people to get excited about coming into God’s presence for worship.
Other spiritual songs are intended to lift up each other to trust in God during difficult times, or to speak life, do good, serve others, forgive, etc.
We aim for excellence
I am so grateful for the ministry Christian Luper, our worship leader, brings to LifeCity. We’re blessed to have talented, passionate people who lead people, in spirit and truth, to sing and praise God through music, and are also encouraging people trying to live it in their own lives. Why do we have drums, electric guitars, and bass guitars, and an organ synthesizer playing in our worship gathering? Because we have a team that can blend the melodies and harmonies of various instruments together for an excellent sound that is an effort to give God our best. In 1 Chronicles 15, the choir director of the temple was chosen to his position, “because he was skillful”. He was uniquely gifted to lead music. All of us are called to worship, some are called to lead. Like the preaching of the Word, we try to only put people in our worship team who have been gifted by God to lead in that capacity, because they are skillful. I’m grateful that the people who lead us to worship through music each week have talent that is only outmatched by their hearts.
So when you come to LifeCity for a Sunday, you’ll see why we love our music. It’s one of the best parts of our Sunday as we lift our voices together and acknowledge God for who He is and all He’s done for us. If you are uncomfortable with that, no sweat! You don’t need to feel compelled to join us in sining. Feel free to check it out and see why we love our church so much. And if you do feel like it, join us in a song that seems to speak to your soul. It feels good! And if you think you sing bad, don’t worry. There’s enough of us singing, you won’t feel like you’re standing out off key! 😉